Evans, David K.

Africa Chief Economist’s Office
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Education, Social Development
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Africa Chief Economist’s Office
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Last updated: March 28, 2024
Bio: David is a Lead Economist in the Chief Economist's Office for the Africa Region of the World Bank. He coordinates impact evaluation work across sectors for the Africa Region. In the past, he worked as Senior Economist in the Human Development Department in the Latin America and the Caribbean Region of the World Bank, and as an economist designing and implementing impact evaluations in Africa. He has designed and implemented impact evaluations in agriculture, education, health, and social protection, in Brazil, the Gambia, Kenya, Mexico, Sierra Leone, and Tanzania. He has taught economic development at the Pardee RAND Graduate School of Public Policy, and he holds a Ph.D. in economics from Harvard University.
Citations 448 Scopus

Publication Search Results

Now showing 1 - 10 of 41
  • Publication
    Cash Transfers, Trust, and Inter-household Transfers: Experimental Evidence from Tanzania
    (Published by Oxford University Press on behalf of the World Bank, 2023-01-24) Evans, David K.; Kosec, Katrina
    Institutionalized conditional cash transfer (CCT) programs may affect pre-existing, informal safety nets such as inter-household transfers and trust among community members. This study reports on a randomized controlled trial used to test the impact of CCTs on various measures of trust and informal safety nets within communities in Tanzania. It provides evidence that the introduction of a CCT program increased program beneficiaries’ trust in other community members and their perceived ability to access support from other households (e.g., childcare). Although CCTs reduced the total size of transfers to beneficiary households in the community in the short run (after 1.75 years of transfers), that reduction had disappeared 2.75 years after transfers began. Taken together, this evidence suggests that formal CCT programs do not necessarily crowd out informal safety nets in the longer term, and they may in fact boost trust and support across households.
  • Publication
    Property Tax Compliance in Tanzania: Can Nudges Help?
    (World Bank, Washington, DC, 2022-08) Collin, Matthew Edward; Di Maro, Vincenzo; Evans, David K.; Manang, Frederik
    Low tax compliance in low- and middle-income countries around the world limits the ability of governments to offer effective public services. This paper reports the results of a randomly rolled out text message campaign aimed at promoting tax compliance among landowners in Dar es Salaam, Tanzania. Landowners were randomly assigned to one of four groups designed to test different aspects of tax morale. They received a simple text message reminder to pay their tax (a test of salience), a message highlighting the connection between taxes and public services (reciprocity), a message communicating that people who did not pay were not contributing to local or national development (social pressure), or no message (control). Recipients of any message were 18 percent (or 2 percentage points) more likely to pay any property tax by the end of the study period. Each type of message resulted in gains in payment rates, although social pressure messages delivered the lowest gains. Total payment amounts were highest for those who received reciprocity messages. Nudges were most effective in areas with lower initial rates of tax compliance. The average estimated benefit-cost ratio across treatments is 36:1 due to the low cost of the intervention, with higher cost-effectiveness for reciprocity messages.
  • Publication
    Building State Capacity: What Is the Impact of Development Projects?
    (World Bank, Washington, DC, 2021-12) Di Maro, Vincenzo; Evans, David K.; Khemani, Stuti; Scot, Thiago
    Although research has established the importance of state capacity in economic development, less is known about how to build that capacity and the role of external partners in the process. This paper estimates the impact of a typical development project designed to build state capacity in a low-income country. Specifically, it evaluates a multilateral development bank project in Tanzania, which incentivized investments in local state capacity by offering grants conditional on institutional performance scores. The paper uses a difference-in-differences methodology to estimate the project impact, comparing outcomes between 18 project and 22 non-project local governments over 2016–18. Outcomes were measured through two rounds of primary surveys of nearly 500 local government officials and nearly 3,000 households. Over the course of the project, measured state capacity improved in project areas, but due to comparable gains in non-project areas, the project’s value-added to change in state capacity is estimated to be zero across all the dozens of relevant variables in the surveys. The data suggest that state capacity is evolving in Tanzania through endogenous changes in trust and legitimacy in the country rather than from financial incentives offered by external partners.
  • Publication
    Economic and Social Development along the Urban-Rural Continuum: New Opportunities to Inform Policy
    (World Bank, Washington, DC, 2021-08) Cattaneo, Andrea; Adukia, Anjali; Brown, David L.; Christiaensen, Luc; Evans, David K.; Haakenstad, Annie; McMenomy, Theresa; Partridge, Mark; Vaz, Sara; Weiss, Daniel J.
    The economic and social development of nations relies on their population having physical access to services and employment opportunities. For the vast majority of the 3.4 billion people living in rural locations, this largely depends on their access to urban centers of different sizes. Similarly, urban centers depend on their rural hinterlands. Building on the literature on functional areas/territories and the rural-urban continuum as well as insights from central place theory, this review paper advances the notion of catchment areas differentiated along an urban-to-rural continuum to capture these urban-rural interconnections. It further shows how a new, publicly available data set operationalizing this concept can shed new light on policy making across a series of development fields, including institutions and governance, urbanization and food systems, welfare and poverty, and access to health and education services. Together the insights support a more geographically nuanced perspective on development.
  • Publication
    Teacher Professional Development around the World: The Gap between Evidence and Practice
    (Published by Oxford University Press on behalf of the World Bank, 2021-06-04) Popova, Anna; Evans, David K.; Breeding, Mary E.; Arancibia, Violeta; Breeding, Mary E.
    Many teachers in low- and middle-income countries lack the skills to teach effectively, and professional development (PD) programs are the principal tool that governments use to upgrade those skills. At the same time, few PD programs are evaluated, and those that are evaluated show highly varying results. This paper proposes a set of indicators—the In-Service Teacher Training Survey Instrument—to standardize reporting on teacher PD programs. An application of the instrument to 33 rigorously evaluated PD programs shows that programs that link participation to career incentives, have a specific subject focus, incorporate lesson enactment in the training, and include initial face-to-face training tend to show higher student learning gains. In qualitative interviews, program implementers also report follow-up visits as among the most effective characteristics of their professional development programs. This paper then uses the instrument to present novel data on a sample of 139 government-funded, at-scale professional development programs across 14 countries. The attributes of most at-scale teacher professional development programs differ sharply from those of programs that evidence suggests are effective, with fewer incentives to participate in PD, fewer opportunities to practice new skills, and less follow-up once teachers return to their classrooms.
  • Publication
    What We Learn about Girls’ Education from Interventions That Do Not Focus on Girls
    (Published by Oxford University Press on behalf of the World Bank, 2021-05-19) Yuan, Fei; Evans, David K.
    What is the best way to improve access and learning outcomes for girls This review brings together evidence from 267 educational interventions in 54 low- and middle-income countries – regardless of whether the interventions specifically target girls – and identifies their impacts on girls. To improve access and learning, general interventions deliver average gains for girls that are comparable to girl-targeted interventions. General interventions have similar impacts for girls as for boys. Taken together, these findings suggest that many educational gains for girls may be achieved through nontargeted programs. Many of the most effective interventions to improve access for girls relax household-level constraints (such as cash transfer programs), and many of the most effective interventions to improve learning for girls involve improving the pedagogy of teachers. Girl-targeted interventions may make the most sense when addressing constraints that are unique to, or most pronounced for, girls.
  • Publication
    Education Technology for Effective Teachers
    (World Bank, Washington, DC, 2021-02-01) Evans, David K.
    Education systems around the world are investing in technology to help teachers be more effective. In some cases, the results are exciting. In others, the impact of technology falls short of expectations or remains unevaluated. The closing of schools worldwide due to the COVID-19 pandemic has highlighted the importance of understanding how to leverage technology well. This note lays out four principles for investing in technology for effective teachers and six aspects of teaching where technology can boost teacher performance, together with examples of tested, promising, and cautionary experiences with teacher technologies.
  • Publication
    An Analysis of Clinical Knowledge, Absenteeism, and Availability of Resources for Maternal and Child Health: A Cross-Sectional Quality of Care Study in 10 African Countries
    (World Bank, Washington, DC, 2020-10) Di Giorgio, Laura; Evans, David K.; Lindelow, Magnus; Nguyen, Son Nam; Svensson, Jakob; Wane, Waly; Tarneberg, Anna Welander
    This paper assesses the quality of health care across African countries based on health providers' clinical knowledge, their clinic attendance, and drug availability, with a focus on seven conditions accounting for a large share of child and maternal mortality: malaria, tuberculosis, diarrhea, pneumonia, diabetes, neonatal asphyxia, and postpartum hemorrhage. With nationally representative, cross-sectional data from 10 countries in Sub-Saharan Africa, collected using clinical vignettes, unannounced visits, and visual inspections of facilities, this study assesses whether health providers are available and have sufficient knowledge and means to diagnose and treat patients suffering from common conditions amenable to primary health care. The study draws on data from 8,061 primary and secondary care facilities in Kenya, Madagascar, Mozambique, Nigeria, Niger, Senegal, Sierra Leone, Tanzania, Togo, and Uganda, and 22,746 health workers. These data were gathered under the Service Delivery Indicators program. Across all conditions and countries, health care providers were able to correctly diagnose 64 percent of the clinical vignette cases, and in 45 percent of the cases, the treatment plan was aligned with the correct diagnosis. For diarrhea and pneumonia, two common causes of under-five deaths, 27 percent of the providers correctly diagnosed and prescribed the appropriate treatment for both conditions. On average, 70 percent of health workers were present in the facilities to provide care during facility hours when those workers were scheduled to be on duty. Taken together, the estimated likelihood that a facility has at least one staff present with competency and the key inputs required to provide child, neonatal, and maternity care that meets minimum quality standards is 14 percent. Poor clinical knowledge is a greater constraint in care readiness than drug availability or health workers' absenteeism in the 10 countries. However, the paper documents substantial heterogeneity across countries.
  • Publication
    How to Improve Education Outcomes Most Efficiently? A Comparison of 150 Interventions Using the New Learning-Adjusted Years of Schooling Metric
    (World Bank, Washington, DC, 2020-10) Angrist, Noam; Evans, David K.; Filmer, Deon; Glennerster, Rachel; Rogers, F. Halsey; Sabarwal, Shwetlena
    Many low- and middle-income countries lag far behind high-income countries in educational access and student learning. Limited resources mean that policymakers must make tough choices about which investments to make to improve education. Although hundreds of education interventions have been rigorously evaluated, making comparisons between the results is challenging. Some studies report changes in years of schooling; others report changes in learning. Standard deviations, the metric typically used to report learning gains, measure gains relative to a local distribution of test scores. This metric makes it hard to judge if the gain is worth the cost in absolute terms. This paper proposes using learning-adjusted years of schooling (LAYS) -- which combines access and quality and compares gains to an absolute, cross-country standard -- as a new metric for reporting gains from education interventions. The paper applies LAYS to compare the effectiveness (and cost-effectiveness, where cost is available) of interventions from 150 impact evaluations across 46 countries. The results show that some of the most cost-effective programs deliver the equivalent of three additional years of high-quality schooling (that is, schooling at quality comparable to the highest-performing education systems) for just $100 per child -- compared with zero years for other classes of interventions.
  • Publication
    Economic Impact of COVID-19: Implications for Health Financing in Asia and Pacific
    (World Bank, Washington, DC, 2020-09) Tandon, Ajay; Roubal, Tomas; McDonald, Lachlan; Cowley, Peter; Palu, Toomas; de Oliveira Cruz, Valeria; Eozenou, Patrick; Cain, Jewelwayne; Teo, Hui Sin; Schmidt, Martin; Pambudi, Eko; Postolovska, Iryna; Evans, David; Kurowski, Christoph
    Coronavirus 2019 (COVID-19’s) impact has gone far beyond its direct effect on morbidity and mortality. In addition to adversely impacting non-COVID health care utilization, the pandemic has resulted in a deep global economic contraction due to lockdown policies and declining demand and supply of goods and services. As a result, most countries are experiencing lower levels of gross domestic product (GDP), rising unemployment, higher levels of impoverishment, and increasing income inequality. Some countries are more vulnerable to the economic contagion resulting from COVID-19, including those implementing more stringent lockdowns and those that are more globally integrated due to their dependence on trade, tourism, and remittances. In addition, countries with preexisting conditions of fiscal weakness due to higher dependence on external grant financing, low tax revenues, and large pre-crisis debt levels are struggling to implement countercyclical mitigative fiscal and monetary policies. In addition to declining economic activity, government revenues have declined, government borrowing is increasing, and public debt levels are projected to skyrocket globally. Higher debt levels will likely imply fiscal tightening for years to come. Implications for health financing are potentially dire, dependent in part on the combination of domestic government, external, and out-of-pocket financing for health that is extant across countries. Tentative projections indicate that, in the absence of reprioritization, growth in public spending for health can decline across most low- and middle-income countries in the region, including becoming negative in some cases, risking reversal of gains made toward expanding universal health coverage in recent years. To reduce the likelihood of such a scenario, and with the caveat that protecting levels of financing will not be effective if resources are not used properly to begin with, ministries of health will need to pay careful attention to planning and budgeting - demonstrating where waste can be reduced and efficiency enhanced - and prioritize within their outlays interventions that are the most cost-effective and equitable. At the same time, ministries of finance should improve the adequacy and predictability of outlays for the sector, taking a multiyear programming perspective and include potential additional resources that will be necessary to procure and deliver a COVID-19 vaccine, once an effective one becomes available. In doing so, they should consider augmenting resources via increasing the scope and breadth of health taxes and proactively seeking out debt relief opportunities, especially if these can be tied to efforts to reprioritize health within overall government budgets where this may be necessary. Whereas there is the perception that the health sector has been flooded with new resources to respond to the pandemic, it remains unclear to what extent these have been additional and not a result of reprogramming of outlays from other areas within health. To the extent COVID-19 presents an opportunity, it is one for removing any doubts that health and the economy are inextricably linked, nudging both ministries of health and finance to reevaluate their priorities, accountabilities, and performance to sustain improvements in both population health, including for ensuring pandemic preparedness, and economic performance.